Sunday, May 03, 2009

Dragonfly Safari in the Sandhills

Today my friend Roger and I ventured out to the Sandhills Gamelands and checked out some wild ares including 17 Frog Pond, the annual burn site and a pond I forgot the name of. The weather was windy and warm with mostly cloud cover, not the best day to find butterflies, but a decent day for odonates (dragonflies and damselflies).

The Damselflies

Above is a Cherry Bluet (Enallagma concisum) male they are about 1 1/4 inch long.
one of my favorite damselflies. This photo does no justice to the really red color. We found two of these after trekking back to the car they were not seen on the first pass through. We are at the northern edge of the range for the Cherry Bluet.

Sandhill Bluet (Enallagma davisi) male they are about 1 1/4 inch long.
we found maybe 30 of this spring flying damselfly today. In years past we just missed finding these as you have to look out on the edges of sandhill ponds on twigs and stems in knee deep water. The Cherry Bluet likes the same habitat as well.

Atlantic Bluet (Enallagma doubledayi) male they are about 1 1/2 inches long.
17 Frog Pond had at least one hundred of these guys, I say guys as only one female was seen. We observed several of the males catching and eating Citrine Forktails.

This one is teneral, meaning immature. I'm certain it is a bluet but which one?

Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata) male
17 Frog Pond had likely 1000 Citrine Forktails at least. These damselflies are very tiny only 3/4 inch long!

Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata) orange female

Southern Spreadwing (Lestes australis) male they are around 2 inches long.
17 Frog Pond we saw maybe 20 of these spreadwings. We also saw the larger Swamp Spreadwing but were not able to get close to any of them.

The Dragonflies

Common Green Darner (Anax junius) these are about 3+ inches long.
I saw 3 of these at 17 Frog Pond, this one is teneral and had likely just taken it's first flight just before I took this photo.

Elfin Skimmer (Nannothemis bella) female the smallest dragonfly in the US!
These are rare unless you have lots of sphagnum in your pond. The male of this species is bluish black. Only 3 of these were seen today.

Ornate Pennant (Celithemis ornata) male these are about 1 1/4 inches long.
They used to be called Faded Pennant because when they age all that mantling one the wings fade away. There were loads of these today maybe a 100 and every last one of them were nervous as can be.

Diminutive Clubtail (Gomphus diminutus) these are about 2 inches long.
Rare mainly found in the Carlinas Sandhills and a few records in Georgia. I've know about this site for these for years.

Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata) male these are about 1 3/4 inches long.
One key to learning these they are early spring fliers and always perch on the ground or on logs like this one did.

Other dragonflies we saw were: Comet Darner (Anax longipes), Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura), Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata), Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia), Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa), Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis), Little Blue Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax minuscula), Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) and Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina). Pretty good day if you ask me.

I realized today that if I ever moved away from NC I'd miss this place. Yep that is 17 Frog Pond, it is said that the name 17 Frog Pond came about because one knowing their frogs and toads could on a decent night (after a good rain) identify 17 species of frogs and toads by ear. My best attempt at this is 11 or 12 species. Notice the pond appears to have no water, it does dry up and for that reason it has no fish. Today the water was about knee deep it does fill up all the way to that stump some years.


WiseAcre said...

That's quit a days catch :) They're all fascinating looking and I can see myself going out to find some now. The Green Darner really set me back - it looks so alien.

Cheryl said...

What a stunning collection of Dragons and Damsels....beautiful and so interesting....

I notice a red damsel flying around the garden the other day....when she settles I shall get a photograph....spring is here.......

Kanak Hagjer said...

Amazing photographs! I'm glad I'm learning some of the names of these beautiful insects by coming here.

I did see one recently which looked like the Citrine Forktail. I've never seen that many varieties together at any point of time. Snadhills Gamelands sounds fascinating.

sweet bay said...

The only Damselflies I've seen are blue-green. They were probably all Bluets. Absolutely beautiful insects.

Your picture of the Common Blue Darner Dragonfly is beautiful too.

Beegirl said...

What an amazing collection! Fantastic captures! They are really beautiful!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Those are amazing pictures, such pretty colors on them. You are lucky to live so near a place that has so many species of wildlife around it.

Heather said...

Randy- I can't imagine if I started now, how I would ever catch up with all your knowledge. I always enjoy the lesson and the pictures.

Anonymous said...

Randy~~ They're like little flying jewels. The photos are really detailed and interesting even if I shiver and scream when I see a bug any bug over an inch long. :)

alindanaw... said...

Hi Randy,
So the dragons and damsels are back with a vengeance! Even here in the tropics it would be hard to find so many species in a single day!

Dragonchaser said...

Hi Randy,
A dozen (or more)species in a day! Even the dragonchaser is very impressed!
happy hunting, and gardening of course, you have simply mouth-watering veges in your garden paradise! Thanks for showing us!

Q said...

Thank you for this informative post. I shall bookmark it for Damsel and Dragonfly id. I love them too.
I do a Sunday Safari every week from May through October; my husband and I go bug hunting.
Thanks again!

MacGardens said...

Thanks again for another educational post. I always learn something here...

spookydragonfly said...

Sounds like a great day, Randy! Wonderful captures... I see some shown that I have in my woods!

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.